The trucking industry is one of the largest in the country and delivers millions of goods and services all across the United States. While the benefits of the industry are substantial, accidents involving truck drivers and smaller passenger vehicles claim thousands of lives every year. Many of the wrecks are attributed to driver error or company neglect.
Experts are estimating severe trucker shortages in the upcoming decade. This could potentially raise the number of truck accidents and put more lives at stake. In order to understand why collision rates could increase, it’s important to understand why the shortage is happening in the first place.
Why the Number of Truckers is Decreasing
There are a number of factors impacting the trucker shortage. It is estimated that around 60,000 drivers are currently needed to meet the demands of the trucking industry; however, the shortage could be upwards of 100,000 or more. By 2026, that shortage has the potential to triple.
As the workforce ages, more and more drivers are retiring. At the current rate, there are more drivers leaving the field than those entering it. The industry also has a high driver turnover rate, above 90 percent. This rate is often attributed to trucking companies not providing what they initially offered to drivers and drivers feeling like they were lied to. There is also an increase in competition among trucking companies for the same drivers. Sign-on bonuses, higher pay packages, and other new hire incentives are enticing drivers to switch companies.
The trucking industry is also one of the most dangerous ones to work in, which could be why individuals looking for jobs are not drawn to the field. The fatality rate is considerably high compared to most occupations, and injuries like overexertion and bodily reaction are common because of the toll it takes to work for extended shifts and sit for long periods of time.
In addition to the issues employees face, higher gasoline prices are increasing overall freight costs, which means truckers are likely to be offered less in wages, more expensive healthcare, and fewer job perks.
How a Trucker Shortage Could Affect Truck Drivers
There are a number of ways the trucker shortage could affect currently employed drivers and newly hired drivers. As veteran truck drivers know, being a trucker means long hours on the road. It’s crucial to deliver cargo in a timely fashion and meeting deadlines is what makes the money. There are, however, federal guidelines that regulate how long truckers can be on the road. These laws are in place for the safety of all travelers. A fatigued truck driver is significantly more likely to end up in an accident than one who has rested properly and is alert.
With fewer drivers, it’s likely the ones who are currently employed will be tasked with more frequent deliveries and longer trips. This could lead some truckers to ignore the resting regulations in an attempt to meet their strict deadlines – which has the potential to raise accident rates. Truckers who push their bodies to the limit are endangering themselves and others on the road.
How a Truck Shortage Could Impact Trucking Companies
When faced with high demand but limited employees, trucking companies could result to poor hiring practices in an attempt to increase their profits. Trucking companies are required to follow federal regulations that specify how hiring should be done. Qualifications include having a valid driver’s license, being of the proper age, and having driving experience and a clean record. When subpar drivers are hired, collisions are likely to become even more frequent.
In addition to hiring truckers they shouldn’t, trucking companies may also neglect their employees and vehicles. All truck drivers are supposed to undergo specific trainings, so they understand how tractor-trailers work and how they are supposed to be driven in different conditions. Cutting costs by not providing trainings is likely to be dangerous. Vehicle neglect could happen if the companies avoid inspecting or fixing their trucks in hopes of saving money.
Trucking companies and truck drivers have a responsibility to ensure their vehicles are safe to operate and will not put anyone needlessly at risk for injury or death. If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a commercial vehicle and you believe the accident should have been prevented, you may be able to take legal action and seek compensation for the damages sustained. Get in touch with our attorneys in Lexington today to find out about the validity of your claim.